I’ve been the to California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) twice in the last four weeks to take an exam. These visits were unnerving since the last time I had taken a driver’s exam was at the age of 16. Back at 16, I took a Driver’s Education Course and all I remember is watching gruesome horror movies about what happens when people drive drunk. Since I wasn’t a consumer of alcohol, the only impact on me was that I learned to like gruesome movies. However, had I actually studied the book I was given, I would have been well-prepared for the exam. Like any kid in the Midwest, I drove my car to the exam — no need for an adult to accompany me. Sixteen years old, and 4 feet 11 inches tall, I was my own man. . . . After quickly failing the written exam, I drove home, parked the car, and rode my bike for the next month until I could re-take the exam.
Studying for the California exam has been intense but it is nothing like exams in other countries. I’m pretty sure the information I discovered on this topic is accurate because I found it on the internet. According to “research,” one country does not require drivers to take an exam as long as individuals are 18 years old and they pay 626 pesos. Another country requires extensive training including a Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers (GRAD) program (Is “rearing of adult drivers” the same as tail-gating?). The final license in that country is not granted until age 21. A country in the East has an driving exam that exemplifies street and traffic conditions. Candidates may “fail for not staying far left enough in the lane or not bending down low enough when checking under the car for cats or children before setting off.”
On my first visit to the California DMV, I didn’t bring the right identification (I.D.) and was told to come back at a later date. I was, however, allowed to complete my vehicle registration and get my new license plate on that day. Feeling embarrassed and upset about my mistake (and about the fact that I needed to come back again in three weeks), I drove my car to the other side of the parking lot to get it verified for the new plate. As the man came out to check my car I murmured something about having to come back again and how crazy it was at the DMV. Sensing that he was listening, I murmured about being nervous about taking the exam.
“I haven’t taken a driver’s exam since I was 16,” I whined.
“You’ll do fine. It’s going to be okay.” A touch of humanity in the midst of bureaucracy. An act of kindness during a difficult day. A touch of Christ.
Reflecting on how I was treated made me think about how I treated others that day. I had rushed to get my place in line. I rolled my eyes if someone got ahead of me. I was judgmental toward the worker who took longer than I expected. I was irritated when I was told I had to return. Once again, my day had become all about me. I had forgotten that the others — the people in front of me as I waited my turn and the employees who were trying to help — are all souls who need Christ. Each person I encounter needs someone to step into his or her day to offer kindness and hope.
In order to show God’s grace toward others, I need to trust Him with the little things that might trip me up. It’s easy for me to trust God in the big things — of course God will pull through if I need Him to part the seas — but can I also trust Him when I’m waiting in line at the DMV? Can I trust God when I’m in a room full of impatient people waiting to speak with an angry clerk, only to a pay a fee that none of us wants to pay?
I am convinced that the best witness I can be of the love and grace of Christ is through how I show kindness toward others in the midst of the small pressures of daily life. Ironically, I get to test my convictions again in two weeks . . . Although I finally passed my exam, we need to return to the DMV because my wife didn’t have the required I.D.
Calvin G. Roso © January 2015
Find driving tests around the world at http://www.barringtonfreight.co.uk/blog/driving-tests-around-world/